NEWS: The Age 14 Jul 05: Captains back AFL on drug code

hoptis

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The captains' views on drugs
March 16, 2006

MARK RICCIUTO, Adelaide
"The players wanted to have the policy from a health aspect. We're setting an example doing the right thing."

MICHAEL VOSS, Brisbane Lions
"Because I'm very aware of what the AFL's trying to achieve with it and how important they hold it, I can't see why they would have any vested interest in going against what has been already done … that would make no sense to me at all, from the AFL's perspective I have not lost any faith in them at all."

ANTHONY KOUTOUFIDES, Carlton
"I think the players understand how serious it is to take drugs … It's a pretty important thing as role models as footballers that you know it shouldn't be happening."

NATHAN BUCKLEY, Collingwood
"The crux of the matter isn't whether it should test or not, the crux of the matter is, is it too much of a risk that the information gets out."

MATTHEW LLOYD, Essendon
"I don't follow it because of the way I am and my thoughts on drugs, so I put my trust in Belly (Peter Bell) and the AFLPA. But at the same time I don't feel too sorry for guys because they see the risks and they are illegal drugs. You don't want the public thinking we are soft on drugs or we are all on drugs if we pull out of testing."

STEVEN KING, Geelong
"The process and structures in place are there to help rehabilitate players and not to throw them out on their own … I think it's a good idea to rehabilitate instead of just throwing them to the lions."

RICHIE VANDENBERG, Hawthorn
"Was it the role of the AFL to stamp out racial vilification? And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. The AFL have been leaders in that, and to a certain extent they feel on the issue of drugs that can be a similar result."

ADAM SIMPSON, Kangaroos
"I think WADA will struggle to catch many people out during the season because it's an off-season issue. If this whole thing collapses because of what's happened it would be really disappointing."

DAVID NEITZ, Melbourne
"There's incidents of depression and all sorts of things in AFL football and other stresses, and it's always something that leads to people, especially repeat offenders, taking drugs. The threat of the confidentiality being broken is really disappointing and unfortunately may effect drug policy."

KANE JOHNSON, Richmond
"I think while we're at the football club and training they should be testing for drugs but I don't think they should be testing while you're on holiday — not for the fact you could be taking drugs, I just don't think they should be invading your space."

LUKE BALL, St Kilda
"We should be well within our rights to say no, we don't want to be tested for that stuff any more … the confidentiality's got to be the main aspect of it."

CHAD CORNES, Port Adelaide
"I've got confidence in it except that the confidentiality part of it would be my only concern."

BARRY HALL, Sydney
"That's why it's confidential, so we can help the player and not embarrass him and stuff like that … we've just got to fix up that confidentiality bit."

LUKE DARCY, Western Bulldogs
"I think it was the right thing and it's the strongest drug policy of any sport in the world when you combine with WADA. But no I haven't got confidence in doing a drug test and making sure the following week it was going to be confidential."

CHRIS JUDD, West Coast
"If you said to me 'is the drug problem in football less than the drug problem in the community? I'd put my house on the fact it was."

Compiled by Michael Gleeson, Jake Niall, Rohan Connolly and Reko Rennie
From The Age
 

beepbeep

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aunty establishment said:
Let me pose a question to your question. If you took a few months' leave from your job, then midway through the break, your boss rocked up and demanded you sit a drug test, how would you feel? My response would be "not so great about going back to work", personally.

I have had a few mates over the years who were/are AFL champions, including a couple at the absolute top of their game, who enjoyed nothing more than celebrating their season's performance with a good old fashioned bender. The rest of the year, they were really well-behaved, hardworking guys.
I work for myself and I would prob fail the drug test is I gave myself one ;) :D But hey if it was in my contract with work that drug testing could happen at any time then I would have to deal with it and not take drugs (if I wanted to keep the job and if I was paid the money some AFL stars get I could deal with it), or just find another job.

But I understand your point but I carn't see why should footballers be allowed to escape drug testing in the off season when all other top athletes whose sport bodies has signed up for this WADA drug policy are not allowed to do so (these sportspeople are just as hardworking if not more so and get 1/50th of the media accolation). A line has to be drawn in the sand somewhere and if it is drug testing all year round then so be it, but aslong as it is fair for every sportsperson. I just carn't see why an AFL player should be trested any different than anyone else. I know a couple of the current crop of AFL players and know what a few of them get upto on the town and so on, it isn't just a bender or two on the offseason ;)
 

hoptis

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Swan questions drug testing
By Adam Cooper
21 Mar 2006

SYDNEY premiership player Jared Crouch has launched an attack on the AFL's drug-testing program and said he was now reluctant to be tested for illegal drugs.

In an indication of the growing mistrust in the confidentiality aspect of the league's out-of-competition drug testing program, Crouch said it was an "absolute disgrace" that the identities of three players, who had twice tested positive to drugs, was leaked to the media.

"You're entitled to your privacy and it's an absolute disgrace that whoever's leaked these names out disrespects us so much that they're willing to do that," said Crouch, a 182-game veteran.

He backed the recent claims of AFL Players' Association chief executive Brendon Gale that players would not want to be tested because their privacy could not be guaranteed.

"In the back of my mind I'm going to be (thinking) `Is this all fair dinkum?'," Crouch said.

Players, the league and the AFLPA are all fuming over the breach of confidentiality which led to the names of three players – all based at clubs outside Victoria and one a premiership player – being leaked to the media.

The AFL has asked Australian Federal Police and the Federal Privacy Commissioner to investigate how testing conducted by the Australian Sports Drug Agency became public.

The league believes the leak could undermine its fight against illicit drugs, while the players fear a lack of privacy in future testing. Under the policy, players who test positive to drugs three times can be named publicly.

The identity of the three unnamed players could be revealed later this week if the Victorian Supreme Court rules in favour of newspapers seeking to publish their names.

Last week the court granted a week-long injunction preventing and newspapers publishing the names, but the matter is scheduled to come up again tomorrow.
From The Advertiser
 

phase_dancer

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Get it out in the open!

I'm playing the devils advocate again, but hey, its all about accountability isn't it?

Perhaps all drug testing results should be made public? That means results from work place, road side & criminal analysis, hospital admission blood tests, sports participant screens, health worker and armed services personnel related tests, and most important of all, results of public servant drug testing. Oh, and while we're at it, we might as well add results of hair analysis tests that some parents require of their kids. In short, why not make drug testing compulsory in every profession, educational institute and sports centre? Surely the system needs to be uniform and across the board?

The expected outcome?

For a start it might have some limited degree of deterrent value. But the real impact would be largely one that stems from the public realization of just how many "people" - as opposed to statistical numbers - really do opt to take recreational drugs. More than just about anything else I could think of, that realization - and inevitable acceptance - would IMO be likely to have a powerful influence on changing the unachievable aims of our present drug policies.

And what of the undetectable drugs I previously joked about? They are here now, maybe not all that common, but it does mean that some "smarter" players undoubtedly slip through the nets, making the fairness of the system to be sadly lacking. So perhaps all workplace/sports etc drug testing should be GC/MS based, which will require both a urine and a blood sample - just so nothing is missed. It may seem like its taking things a bit too far, but can you imagine how the notion of saliva or urine testing would have gone down in the 50's and 60's?

Of course, drug taking amongst sports people is nothing new. I knew of VFL players in the early eighties who smoked cannabis throughout the off season, although these guys were firmly dedicated to the game otherwise, and never smoked during the playing season. These guys even went without sex when it was requested/ demanded by the coach 8o How much more dedicated can one be?

As many people on this board know, there are many other industries and professions where drug testing is employed, and yet workers can often get around the rules. I met a guy last weekend who has worked for a major airline company for well over 10 years. He said the only ones who ever got in trouble were those who tried to take drugs on flight. Fair enough. Yet the company has an extensive drug policy, meaning that employees are not supposed to take drugs at all. I guess, to a degree its a performance related thing, but there obviously aren't many random tests done. As my friend stated, if testing was common, there would be a lot of out of work people - or would there? Perhaps within the pages of these specific policies, lies a realistic paragraph or 2; a carefully worded clause that actually makes "provision" for a degree of drug use among its employees? Do a search on the this board, and you may find that very clause.

So in the end, if all results were to be published, it eventually becomes the fairness of the system that's scrutinized. Publicity might be considered a bad thing for these players, but if they believe their drug use is non-problematic, perhaps they could instead take the bold move of standing up for what they believe in. If enough people actually did this - instead of that considered more prudent; being silenced in order to preserve future prospects - then maybe the outcome may mean they stay heros after-all. They might find they had played a significant role in instrumenting change. Change that sees a future where drug testing is largely limited to "intoxication only" screening, as opposed to digging through an individual's complete history & prying into what one gets up to on the weekends.
 

Preme213

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phase_dancer said:
Of course, drug taking amongst sports people is nothing new. I knew of VFL players in the early eighties who smoked cannabis throughout the off season, although these guys were firmly dedicated to the game otherwise, and never smoked during the playing season. These guys even went without sex when it was requested/ demanded by the coach 8o How much more dedicated can one be?
I don't know.. would stoners rather go without weed or sex? ;)
 

ayjay

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PD - I take your point. I was talking to someone a while ago who turned out to be in the armed forces. I said "What???? How do you get away with your extensive drug taking?" He just said that if the drug testing was really random, there would be no armed forces ;) They always get a heads-up when a test is coming around.

But I think that the stigma attached to illicit drug use is too high to expect that outing more people would lead to a change in attitudes for the better. It could even backfire.

I would have liked to have seen some support for the AFL from our drug user organisations, but I can understand why they are keeping stumm - funding is at risk! Frankly, the whole country is under such a conservative pall at the moment that it's hard for me to even think about these things without getting angry and depressed :(
 

phase_dancer

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But I think that the stigma attached to illicit drug use is too high to expect that outing more people would lead to a change in attitudes for the better. It could even backfire.
That's always a real possibility ayjay, but policy wise, I consider the current situation to have been largely arrived at through the orchestrated suppression of information. At present - through both subtle and direct means - much is done in order to silence anything or anyone seen to be supporting or encouraging drug use. This has cleverly resulted in the common "non-admittance" stance as held by much of the drug taking community - at least for anyone with anything to lose. In the eyes of the blinker wearing public, this leaves the "hard cases", adverse reports, and biased media articles as the only information available by which to form an opinion. Had it not been for the internet, we would probably be further down the road towards harsher laws, as most people would never normally see or hear anything positive about rec drug use.

As it presently stands, there is little control over internet drug information, so through this medium, there might still be a chance to properly educate the public, and thereby eventually develop fairer and safer drug laws. As I've said before, we do need to reduce the demand for illicit drugs, but suppression and arrogance will never achieve it. All that does is make room for the next wave of criminals, ready to exploit inadequacies in legislation by coming up with new tactics such as employing new substances and developing foolproof methods by which to obtain the chemicals to make them. The illicit drug plague will thereby continue to be reinvented.

The thing is, sports mad Australians love their heros. Would they turn against the popular iconic role models if these players admitted to drug use? Some people would, but I'd be willing to bet that the majority of the sport addicted public would find it in their hearts to forgive and eventually accept. The alternative - to "turn away" from their favourite sporting teams/heros - would be the equivalent of "sacrilegious cold turkey", something I believe most sports lovers couldn't bear to think of.

Of course, that's not to say the government would sit quietly through any of this, but if the call was loud enough, and enough people of profile were honest about their drug use, then the public pressure would eventually demand change.

Why is it that such a high percentage of the population currently oppose drug reform? After all, most of the public haven't been adversely affected by drugs at all, not to mention those who regularly take drugs without consequence. If the figures were given some degree of human association, then the consumers of the ~ million MDMA pills, countless kilos of meth, and pounds of dope consumed every week in this country would have a face - a face of the average Australian, and that by itself would reveal the true facts e.g most rec drug users aren't ruined by an occasional night out (of it). Have we ever seen these figures presented on TV? Very rarely, and usually only then in relation to scare stories - often with an inference of the horrors that could occur if ever a desperate drug user ever gets a hold of you.

It's not hard to see that some facts are not presented or even allowed by the powers that be. If they were, the public would naturally see the vilification of drug users as being against the very fabric of Australian society. Who do you think those recent shock ads were really aimed at, if not the older voters of Australia? If they were aimed at kids, I'd expect they would have been followed up with new material to reinforce and more thoroughly educate. IMO it was another purely political stunt: to frighten the ignorant into supporting prohibition, and silence those who would otherwise speak out against it. If the ad campaign had had an ounce of integrity, it would have been a brilliant concept and much could have been gained in terms of affecting a demand reduction. Sadly, it was a missed opportunity.


Harm Reduction extends well beyond safe drug use information. It also has potential to reduce harm coming from government sponsored lies and coercive idealism, which at present results in many more users suffering through court actions or job dismissal. However, HR advocates can't announce in any manner that drug use can be safer than it presently is. They must convey the age old message that drugs are bad. Otherwise, as an organisation they become merely another activist group, kept at barge pole length from any federal or state support. Realistically, illicit drugs are dangerous, so by that definition they can't be termed good - potential to causing all manner of life upheavals - but ineffective and oppressive laws are just plain bad - for everyone.

I believe things will change, however it will take until a government is elected that is strong enough to accept science fact as the basis for which to formulate drug, health and social policies. When that day comes, the then educated public will undoubtedly look back on the totalitarian prohibitionists as being some of the most evil people in history.

So come out of the users' closet and get the ball rolling, ..dat's what I think!*


Note: There's a lot of if's in this opinionated blurb. What it comes down to is that I hate the public being treated like sheep. Freedom is fast becoming like the edge of an ever shrinking paddock. Sorry, but any politician who makes decisions based on religious grounds, hasn't an ounce of credibility in my books. It's all so last century....:p



* borrowed from that painfully honest, but brutally confronting comedian - Andrew Dice Clay
 
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hoptis

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Well said on many counts p_d.

Firstly, I have no doubt that famous sportspeople in this country are regular users of recreational drugs. From my own time in the scene, it's fairly well known in Melbourne the places that AFL players frequent, often on more than just alcohol, and the amount of past players you frequently see out indulging is evidence enough of how widespread the problem is.

As Jeff Kennett, president of a football club in one of the most affluent areas of Victoria said recently; when you have players not even twenty-one who are payed over $40,000 a year just to warm the bench all season, it's not hard to imagine that they're prone to finding hedonistic ways to spend that money.

No different to many, many other young Australians with much more disposable income than their parents had at the same age in previous generations.

I've also noticed that the media over the last few years are making greater intrusions into the privacy of players at the elite level across all sports, and that their reporting on recreational drug use is becoming more brazen.

The two examples I can think of are the swab testing of toilet seats at the Brownlow awards, as reported in the Herald Sun not long ago and this recent situation where newspapers are going to court to get permission to name the players that have tested positive so far.

In that regards, I think you'll see your wish soon, that players at the highest level will have to face up to the public about their drug use... though it's hard to imagine that they'll deviate from the standard "fallen hero/I am sick & ashamed & need help" line that others in the situation have fallen on in the past.

To me the question of whether the public perception of drug users in this country can be changed by the outing of their sporting heroes as drug users is a moot point.

As we've seen in the past with the opening of injecting room facilities in NSW and the following outcry internationally from the UN; Australia answers to it's allies in the war on drugs, just as it does in the war on terror. Prohibition would not exist in it's present form today if America were not the military and cultural superpower that it is, with the influence that it has abroad.

Sorry to sound so cynical... I think I read too many newspapers ;)

Anyway, the following article just shows how absurd this is all starting to get...
 

hoptis

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Tuckey seeks blackout over sports drug users
By Katharine Murphy
March 21, 2006


Wilson Tuckey
Photo: Pat Scala

FIRST it was protecting media diversity in the regions. Now it is recreational drug use in the AFL.

Maverick Liberal backbencher Wilson Tuckey is threatening to amend the Federal Government's new media policy if powerful sports administrations such as the AFL refuse to crack down on players using drugs.

Mr Tuckey yesterday wrote to Prime Minister John Howard, Sports Minister Rod Kemp and Communications Minister Helen Coonan warning he was prepared to beef up the new laws to prevent the Government's tough-on-drugs policy descending into what he called "a farce".

"I am prepared to move amendments to our forthcoming media legislation which would ban the television and print reporting of all sporting events whose administration had failed to commit to, and implement, a satisfactory zero tolerance program for all drug abuse," Mr Tuckey declared in a letter obtained by The Age.

Mr Tuckey's outburst is a new aspect of the backbench unease about the new media policy that was announced by Senator Coonan last week. The changes pave the way for mergers and acquisitions in Australia's media industry by scrapping 20- year-old controls on foreign investment and domestic ownership.

Regional MPs have expressed concern that the policy will lead to less media diversity and declining "localism" in news.

But Mr Tuckey is not concerned about localism. He wants the Government to use the new media bill to pressure sporting associations to eliminate drug use by elite athletes.

The West Australian Liberal's anger has been prompted by recent news reports that three AFL players have twice tested positive to recreational drugs.

"To suggest that elite footballers have the same weakness as the rest of the community is no defence," Mr Tuckey said in his letter to senior ministers.
From The Age
 

hoptis

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AFL drug priorities
EDITORIAL
24 Mar 2006

THE AFL Players' Association can argue it is only doing its job in trying to protect the identities of three high-profile footballers who have twice tested positive to illicit drugs.

But the position of the AFL in supporting a Supreme Court injunction against media companies who want to name and shame these players is outrageous.

The AFL's job is to administer and promote the code, and in doing that it has no right to try and protect those who have engaged in illegal activity.

Its decision to call in the federal police to investigate how the names of the players became known is a case of trying to intimidate as well as shoot the messenger.

Footballers are important role models for young people and the AFL's drugs, racial abuse and sexual conduct codes are an acknowledgment of this.

Instead of engaging in a witch-hunt and trying to suppress names, AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou should devote his energies to tackling the main issue.

That is the worrying and continued use of illicit drugs by professional footy players.

For the the image of the game the AFL must now withdraw from this expensive and unnecessary court battle and stop trying to protect the drug trio.
From Herald Sun

:\
 

hoptis

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Some interesting comments, especially half-way down about why AFL players would prefer taking a pill over having beer.

Akermanis blasts drug secrecy
Jim Wilson
March 29, 2006

OUTSPOKEN Lions star Jason Akermanis says players who are stupid enough to take illicit drugs should be named immediately.

The triple premiership player says it's unfair on all players from non-Victorian clubs to have the stigma of being a drug user hanging over their heads.

His comments follow confirmation three players from non-Victorian clubs have twice tested positive to illicit drugs out-of-competition.

Under the AFL's drug code, the players' identities were supposed to remain confidential.

But a fortnight ago, The Courier-Mail confirmed three players from interstate clubs returned two positive tests.

Because of an injunction in the Victorian Supreme Court, the players' names cannot be made public and a trial will begin on May 22.

"Why should all of us have to be the subject of Chinese whispers and innuendo?" Akermanis said.

"If players are stupid enough to pop a pill, then they should suffer the consequences.

"I even heard a premiership player was involved and frankly that implicates all of us who have won a flag."

Akermanis has also raised serious concerns about the use of illicit drugs among AFL players.

"There is not a culture like that at my football club but I know a player who moved to another club was alarmed at the use of illicit drugs," he said.

"This player went to mad Monday celebrations after the season was over, and there wasn't a beer in sight. He was shocked at what was on offer."

Akermanis said the use of two separate drug codes was not working.

The World Anti-Doping Agency's code is in effect for the first time this season but the AFL has continued its fight against illicit drugs in the off season with its own code.

The WADA code does not provide for tests for illicit drugs out-of-competition and tests for those substances during the season on match days only.

However, penalties under the WADA code are far more severe for any positive test to illicit drugs.

Akermanis says the WADA code should never have been adopted.

"It stinks and compared with 12 months ago, we have slipped behind," he said.

"There was absolutely nothing wrong with the AFL code and it stinks they were painted into a corner and forced to adopt the WADA code."

Akermanis believes the AFL must either take a hardline approach or scrap the out-of-competition testing.

"They're trying to monitor player's behaviour and make no mistake it is an issue," the Lions star said.

"But if you're going to have it, then there must be zero tolerance and if you cross the line, then players should suffer the penalties."

He's also suggested the pressure on players to return from an off-season fit and ready to perform at the elite level had sparked an increase in illicit drug use.

"It is far easier for a player to pop a pill than have a few beers when you talk about skin fold tests and what's expected of them after time away from the game," Akermanis said.

"It is such a shame they don't realise what they're taking is illegal and causing damage."

His comments will further strengthen AFL chief Andrew Demetriou's drive to continue the fight against illicit drugs.

But there is mounting pressure on Demetriou to take an even harder approach to out-of-competition testing.

It is an enormous challenge for the AFL boss who faces concerted opposition from the Players' Association if he even considers adopting a harder line against illicit drugs.

The AFLPA has indicated it has grave concerns about signing a new agreement at the end of this season to continue the league's out-of-competition illicit drug code.

Akermanis has also flagged a change of direction in the way he handles his contract negotiations and business affairs.

One of the most marketable products in the game has signed a new arrangement with leading sports management company athletes1.

The company is headed up by former Essendon stars Ricky Olarenshaw and Justin Blumfield.

Akermanis has obviously softened his opinion on player managers who he labelled last year as "parasites".

But he wants to strengthen his Melbourne base eyeing a move back here once his career ends.

"I like what Ricky and Justin are doing and the fact they know the business and have also played the game is a huge attraction," Akermanis said.

"I need to have more of a presence in Melbourne as I want to be pursue a senior coaching role down the track. I want to be in Melbourne as that's where I want to learn the coaching caper."

Akermanis said he hadn't ruled out becoming an assistant coach under Brisbane coach Leigh Matthews.

"Perhaps, but there is a real want to go to Melbourne and learn under someone like Terry Wallace, Mick Malthouse or Kevin Sheedy," he said.

"I want to coach and I think those guys would be great to learn under."

Akermanis will use Olarenshaw and athletes1 to look after his business interests, media commitments, and possibly his next contract negotiation at the end of next year.

He will seek a new contract with the Lions at the end of the 2007 season.

But his appearances on the new look The Footy Show will have to be scaled back.

"I love being on the show and I think Garry (Lyon) and James (Brayshaw) will do a good job," Akermanis said.

"But my training schedule has changed and we've switched from Wednesday nights to Thursdays, so unfortunately I won't have too many spots on the show."

Akermanis though wants to spend more time in Melbourne and Olarenshaw believes he'll be in demand.

"We are thrilled to have Jason on board and we believe it will be an extremely successful partnership," Olarenshaw said.
From Courier-Mail
 
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